Skip to main content
Skip to page content

Skip Navigation LinksPennsylvania Department of Health > My Health > A-Z Health Topics > A-D > Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) > Who Gets ALS?

Who Gets ALS

ALS is a disorder that affects the function of nerves and muscles. Based on U.S. population studies, a little over 5,600 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with ALS each year. (That's 15 new cases a day.) It is estimated that as many as 30,000 Americans have the disease at any given time.
 
Most people who develop ALS are between the ages of 40 and 70, with an average age of 55 at the time of diagnosis. However, cases of the disease do occur in persons in their twenties and thirties. Generally though, ALS occurs in greater percentages as men and women grow older. ALS is 20% more common in men than in women. However with increasing age, the incidence of ALS is more equal between men and women.
 
There are several research studies � past and present � investigating possible risk factors that may be associated with ALS.  More work is needed to conclusively determine what genetics and/or environment factors contribute to developing ALS.
 
Half of all people affected with ALS live at least three or more years after diagnosis. Twenty percent live five years or more; up to ten percent will live more than ten years. There is some evidence that people with ALS are living longer, at least partially due to clinical management interventions, riluzole (Rilutek�) and possibly other compounds and drugs under investigation.